Jay Sage: Greetings and welcome to another edition of the Entertainment Bureau Chat Wrap. Today we’re going to delve once again into the realm of music. These days, with the rise of portable MP3 players, people have the ability to listen to music pretty much everywhere. Yet, there’s still an immutable relationship between being in your car on an open stretch of highway and hearing that perfect song come on the radio. So that’s today’s topic…the greatest driving songs. I’m here with Jared Feldman, why don’t you start us off?
Jared Feldman: It takes a proper combination of sounds to make a good road songs, in addition to the proper lyrics. First one that comes to mind for me is Welcome to the Jungle by Guns n’ Roses. It’s a perfect pump up song that also works well for rolling down the highway.
Sage: Axl Rose is one crazy son-of-a-mother, but that is truly a great song. Welcome to the Jungle and Paradise City both make me want to push the pedal right down to the floor. My favorite of all time is probably Runnin’ Down a Dream by Tom Petty. It’s somewhat unique because anywhere else, the song seems boring (along with the rest of Petty’s repertoire). But the lyrics combined with the pace make it absolutely perfect for cruising.
Feldman: Petty’s heartland rock sound makes his music perfect for the highway. Luckily it is frequently on the radio, so cranking it up is a breeze. Heading into a more contemporary era is Sabotage by the Beastie Boys. Frankly it didn’t cross my mind until seeing it featured in the recent Star Trek film where a young James Kirk steals his step father’s classic convertible and crashes into a ravine while listening to that song. While I don’t plan on crashing my car while listening to the boys from Brooklyn it is a good song nonetheless.
Sage: I still haven’t seen the latest Star Trek installment, but I can attest to how cool that song is. Moment of silence for Adam Yauch. I got in my car a couple weeks ago after doing a particularly inconvenient favor for a friend…but on the 15 minute drive home, I was treated to Sultans of Swing by Dire Straits, The Ocean by Led Zeppelin, and Black Betty by Ram Jam. Three awesome car songs and I think I became a believer in radio karma that day. Sultans of Swing in particular – the opening 30 second riff makes you feel like a secret agent behind the wheel.
Feldman: I find it interesting that all the songs we’ve mentioned are by American bands (Save for The Ocean). Is it that we are from a road culture with the wind in our hair? Is it that people in the UK don’t drive or just that American music is more suited for being behind the wheel?
Sage: In the spirit of fast cars, loose women and hard rock that embodied the 70’s and 80’s, American certainly has a predilection toward the fast cars. Don’t tell that to Germany, though. Of course, they spawned The Scorpions, who also fit into our category here. I would say that busting through a desert highway at 100 MPH with a loud radio and a louder engine is a pretty unique part of the American experience.
Feldman: Using “desert highway” made me think of Hotel California, which isn’t the typical speeding down the road song, but rather a slow lazy cruise through the hot desert. I think the Eagles are frequently overlooked for the opus that was that song and similarly titled album.
Sage: And fans of The Eagles behind the wheel and more in the mood for a country twang will also enjoy their seminal Take it Easy.
Feldman: For the cold night drive Eminem’s Lose Yourself is always a worthy companion. It is especially helpful when someone needs a long contemplative moment.
Sage: Now that’s it’s not insanely overplayed on radio stations like it was several years back, that song is always fun to hear. Same story with 99 Problems.
Feldman: I’ve got 99 Problems but hearing that song on the radio too frequently ain’t one. If you had to pick one album to listen to on a long road trip over and over and over again, which would be the one for you?
Sage: As I’ve mentioned a couple times, my current album du jour is Warren Zevon’s Excitable Boy. Traditionally though, my favorite album for my car is Queen’s Sheer Heart Attack, featuring such hits as Killer Queen and Brighton Rock, along with lesser known favorites like Tenement Funster and Stone Cold Crazy. A lot of really fast paced stuff.
Feldman: For me it would be The Doors’ self titled first album. It starts off fast with Break On Through then cools off (relatively) with Light My Fire before ending most appropriately with The End. Besides being a fantastic album in and of itself, it is perfect for the long road trip.
Feldman: It seems that the perfect formula for a good driving song is a band from a hot weather area, a convertible, and a seminal lyrical moment to highlight the occasion.
Sage: I think that’s the perfect sentiment to end on. I might just have to go for a long drive this afternoon. Check back in next time right here on The Entertainment Bureau for more on All Things Entertaining.